Hi, My name is Mary. My history of sexual abuse began when I was about four years old. I had an uncle who like to tickle me – a lot. He only did it when we were in a room alone. People elsewhere in the house enjoyed hearing me giggle. What they didn’t notice was that when the giggling stopped, I was nearly out of breath from the torture of non-stop tickling and my uncle was forcing his finger up inside me. All he said was “oops,” and, at the time, I believed it really was by accident that his finger found its way “there.”

Then there was our neighbor. I’ll call him Frank. One day, I was sitting on the bed with Frank’s daughter, Sheila, playing with our Barbie dolls. Frank came and told Sheila to go to the kitchen – I don’t remember why. While she was gone, Frank placed his hand on my breast, moved it around a bit and pushed me back into a pillow. He had a big smile on his face and he said, “mmmmmmm,” like he was describing a good meal or dessert he was tasting. He left the room before Shelia came back. I told Shelia that I had to go home.

My mom was standing at the stove cooking dinner. I blurted out, “Mommy, Frank touched my boobie.” She looked straight at me and replied, “Oh, now Mary, Frank would do a thing like that.” For a split second I sensed my words really sinking into her mind, but she shook her head and repeated, “Frank wouldn’t do anything like that.”

Then she went back to her cooking as if the conversation had never happened, and it was never discussed again. I was about eleven years old, just becoming a woman. And I knew at that moment, standing in the kitchen with my mommy’s back facing me, that I was all alone in this world.

When I was around twelve, Frank’s nephew, Phillip, came home from the service. Somehow Philip found out that I was home alone. I woke up late at night to find Philip on top of me, his hand over my mouth, then his penis inside of me. I was being raped. I can still remember the sound his belt buckle made. His only words were, “And you better not tell your parents.”

That rape resulted in a pregnancy. Early in the pregnancy I miscarried in the toilet. I didn’t even know I was pregnant. (I didn’t learn until later in life that what came out of me was a baby.)

It never occurred to me to tell my mom about Phillip raping me. I gave up on her ever being there for me that day in the kitchen with I was eleven.

As a child, I was called stubborn, bad-tempered, a bad girl. As a teenager, I was called those things and worse. I was none of those things. However, I was confused, sad, scared, lonesome, depressed, and angry.

Today, with therapy, I struggle to heal. It’s a long, hard journey. If only mom could have helped me. Contrary to the words of a once popular song, silence is NOT golden, neither is neglect.

So go ahead, be courageous, be a hero. Little Mary and other children like her will love you forever!!

All names, except mine, have been changed.


One Child's Story of Sexual Abuse

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape

What is the HERO Project?

HERO, a project of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape, is a community-based, media-driven, child sexual abuse prevention program designed to educate and motivate adult community members to call the 24-hour HERO Hotline if they suspect child sexual abuse. Learn More about how to step in and stop abuse